United States

FI Connect intranet solution helps bank better manage information

Northwest Financial Corp. improves collaboration, efficiency

CASE STUDY  | 

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Northwest Financial Corp (NFC), a $1.7 billion organization was struggling to effectively share information and processes consistently and efficiently across its holding company and two charter banks--Northwest Bank and First National Bank in Creston. A leader in community banking across northern Iowa and eastern Nebraska and recognized by the Des Moines Register as one of the area’s best employers, NFC was frustrated by employees’ inability to quickly access and use the information they needed to do their jobs.

“We had an intranet,” says Pam Burch, NFC’s vice president of IT Product and Service Delivery, “but it was difficult to use and had poor search capabilities. Its security functions also interfered with access. Increasingly, our people just weren’t using it.”

Burch heard about RSM’s FI Connect® intranet solution and met with Marla Matlock, a manager in RSM’s technology and management consulting practice. She was impressed with RSM’s combination of technology and banking experience.

“Other vendors we talked to were knowledgeable about IT structure, security and governance,” says Burch, “but Marla and her team also really understood banking. They spoke our language and understood our pain points.”

NFC chose RSM and FI Connect to address their information management challenges.

Goals

Matlock and her team went to work building a thorough understanding of NFC’s business challenges, operations and goals. Key issues NFC aimed to address included:

  • Improving collaboration across locations and especially between its two separate charter banks
  • Standardizing document access processes
  • Increasing business process automation to improve efficiency and consistency
  • Ensuring compliance with bank policies and forms
  • Eliminating document storage issues

Our role

RSM started with a discovery project involving departments across the parent company and both charter banks. “The discovery process was very thorough, but also very efficient,” says Burch. “That’s important because we still had our daily jobs to do. Because Marla and her team really understood the banking environment, including our regulatory issues, they were able to work with us effectively to define our needs.”

NFC was also impressed with the depth of RSM’s team. “From Marla on down, they were always very responsive. When a key consultant on the project left on maternity leave, they were completely transparent about the situation and the project continued smoothly.”

After defining NFC’s goals, RSM developed a detailed implementation plan and moved ahead. One key was involving personnel across the organization so that key players all understood and bought into the new system. “RSM’s training was interactive and effective,” says Burch. “They involved our people at every stage so they could really take ownership of the system.” Building that ownership helped take pressure off NFC’s IT department, which had significant responsibility for the old intranet.

NFC branded its new intranet solution COMPASS, a strategy RSM recommended to help drive user adoption. The implementation went smoothly, and NFC was able to decommission its old intranet and switch over completely to COMPASS within 90 days. “Within two months following the initial COMPASS   implementation, we were able to shift direct support from our core project team and RSM to our own help desk,” says Burch. “That’s how good the project communication, user adoption and training were.”

Benefits

COMPASS is delivering real benefits for NFC. “From the holding company level to each of the charter banks, COMPASS has really improved employees’ ability to find the information they need,” says Burch. “It’s much easier for us to disseminate key announcements and our confidence that employees are accessing and following correct procedures is much higher.”

“RSM really understands our business, but also took the time to understand us,” concludes Burch. “We won’t hesitate to turn to them for future projects.”

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